Engineer Martin Owiti was born on 25th August 1947 in Siaya Hospital. He hailed from Kasau Village, Usigu Sub-location, Yimbo Location. Siaya County. He was the fourth and last born child to the late Mzee Micah Odero and Mama Dorina Gieye . His siblings are Mwalimu Adram Magak , Monica Ogola and Mwalimu Job Okech.
Martin started his school life at Barkanyango Primary School in 1955. He later joined Gobei Intermediate School from where he sat the Kenya Africa Primary Examination (KAPE) in 1963 and passed with flying colors. This gained him admission to Alliance High School in 1964. He sat for for the Cambridge School Certificate Ordinary Level in 1967 which he passed with distinctions and was admitted at Alliance for A-levels. He sat “A” Level exams in 1969 and passed so well that he was admitted to the University of Nairobi to pursue a professional degree in Mechanical Engineering. Martin graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science honors degree course in Mechanical Engineering.
Martin first met the love of his life Macrine Rhoda Adhiambo in 1976 in Kisii town. He fondly remembered and often recounted how this beautiful young girl would be dressed in pure white and with her younger sisters, would be carrying bibles every Sunday going to church. He remembered following them after church to their residence and the rest was history. They later started courting while he was still at Alliance High School and Macrine was at Moi Girls, Nairobi and their friendship grew on to a colorful ceremony on 15th June 1974 at this cathedral. On that day Martin promised Macrine that he would treat her like a queen, a promise he kept until his sudden demise. Macrine returned that favour by also treating Martin like a king. The two love birds were blessed with 3 children namely Dr. Maureen Kalombo, Max Bernard Owiti and Marilyn Elsa Adell, sons in law William Kalombo and Francis Adell, daughter in law Esther Nyambura and grandchildren Michael, Macrine, Anisa, Martin, Christans and Macrine. Martin’s love for his wife was demonstrated in 2014 when they renewed their marriage vows to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. He gifted his wife with a present to behold and re-emphasized his love for her. He then took her on a second honey moon to Europe and America to appreciate their marriage. He rarely called his wife by name but always referred to her as Nyoremo, Agola, and Darling and in rare occasions, Mama Maureen.
Career & Employment
Martin established a distinguished career in manufacturing production and organizational management. He was a dedicated and hardworking professional who prided himself in achieving results through team work. After graduation Martin joined East African Industries Ltd (now Unilever) as a management trainee in the engineering department. Thereafter, Martin worked very hard over the years in various capacities and worked his way up the ranks rising from engineer to factory manager. He was closely involved in the installation and commissioning of the refrigeration plant for the edible foods, the factory and its expansion programme. Between 1981-1982,Martin went on attachment to Van Den Berghs & Jurgens, Bromborough Factory in the United Kingdom for further training in cooking fats and margarine factory management. On his return he became the Factory Manager- Foods, being responsible for the manufacture of cooking fats and margarine. In total, Martin built an illustrious career spanning over 13 years, at East African Industries. He was later headhunted by British American Tobacco (BAT) as the Production Manager in 1986 and was sent on attachment to the United Kingdom for training on tobacco processing technology. On his return from the UK in 1987, he worked as Production Manager achieving significant improvements in productivity, product quality and cost reduction. This led to a well-earned promotion to Production Director in 1990, a position he held for the next ten years, and would turn out to be the peak in his manufacturing career. He helped to achieve over 100% productivity improvement over the period. He developed the Nairobi factory to World-Class standards achieving Manufacturing Resource Planning, MRPII Class “A” in December 1999. He went on to be the Chairman of the company’s Risk Management Committee as well as its Environment, Health & Safety Director, where he helped to achieve an outstanding safety record in the company resulting in the company receiving three international awards for zero lost workday cases (LWC) for three consecutive years. Martin also successfully coordinated the construction of Imara Daima Housing Project of 850 medium cost housing developments. Martin took early retirement from BAT in 2000 and joined the public service, where he worked as Chief Executive for South Nyanza Sugar Company (Sony) and Managing Director of Pyrethrum Board of Kenya. On the expiry of his contracts in Public Service in 2005, he and Mr. Kip’ngetich Bett formed Victoria Management Consultants, under which they became Joint Receiver Managers for Muhoroni and Miwani Sugar Companies, until 2012. During that period they were able to turn around Muhoroni Sugar Company from a loss making to a profit making organization, achieving ISO 9001:2008 certification and audited for ISO 1400:2004 certification. They also managed to put into place cane development plans that improved capacity utilization and availability of cane to the factory in a consistent manner. Between May and July 2014 they were also Joint Receiver Managers for Rupa Cotton Mills (EPZ) Limited, and recently the same for Ricardo EPZ International Company Ltd (In Receivership). Over all these years, Martin attended numerous, courses in Engineering, manufacturing, environmental, governance, project management, finance and marketing all over the world. He also attended many international conferences, worldwide.
Social Life and Community Service
Martin’s leadership qualities were recognized during his school days and this led to him being made deputy school captain at Alliance High School. At a family level, Martin took on the role of organizing both immediate and extended family functions. He became a darling to all his cousins, uncles, aunties, nieces and nephews and eventually to all those who knew him. He was economical with words, but spoke volumes with action. He chose not only to do things that were right for the family, but to do the right things. Martin was a model citizen whose legacy we believe shall impact the present and future generation. Martin valued education and was very instrumental in the development of schools. He helped build many of the classrooms at Kasau Primary School and even involved friends from outside the country like Hans Buser of Switzerland who is also here with us today. Martin was a member and Chair of the Board of Barkanyango Secondary School till his passing. He generously made financial contributions and paid school fees for numerous needy students throughout his life. He was the lead person in establishing Bondo Teachers college at Barkanyango. Martin was a deeply religious and practicing Christian who showed his love for God by being involved in the church. He was key in the building of the ACK churches in Nyamonye and Barkanyango and almost single handedly spear headed the construction of St. Mathews Church Kasau. He was Patron of Barkanyango Parish and St. Mathews Church Kasau. Martin was involved in the building of Maseno West Cathedral in Siaya and was a nominated member of the synod of the diocese of Bondo. He was nominated to the Inter Diocesan Properties board which is the business development arm of the four Dioceses of Nyanza and was key in advising the board on Project Management Areas. He also served as vice chair to the finance and planning committee. Martin has faithfully worshiped at All Saints Cathedral since 1970, and has been involved in the life of the church in various ways. During the construction of the multi-purpose hall he came forward as a flag bearer making generous contributions towards the project. He was the patron of the Boys Brigade, a reader at the 11:30 service and a member of Anglican Men’s Association (KAMA). Anyone who had a church project knew that they could count on Martin’s support, and this he did wholeheartedly. Martin’s guiding philosophy was that we should leave this world a better place than we found it, and to this effect he made his mark by initiating numerous projects for water and agricultural sectors. As a member of the Yimbo Union, he was one of the prime movers in its flagship project of rural electrification. He was an active and committed member of 25th Investments Company Limited, an association whose aim is to provide employment opportunities for Kenyans. Martin was able to achieve all these tasks because he was a principled and self-driven man.
Martin’s passing on was as tragically sudden as it was shocking to those who received the news. Martin and his wife Macrine were taking their regular morning walk on 2nd June 2015 at 6am, when Martin suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival. He had no known medical condition aside from diabetes which he kept under control. His sudden death was traumatic to the wife and family and has left them with many questions, as Martin did not complain of any illness as they walked.